Keep your goals to yourself

Keep Your Goals to Yourself

This time last month, the blogosphere was buzzing with talk of goals for the New Year.

Some big. Others small. A few doomed to fail because people’s hearts weren’t in it, but they felt the need to join in. For so many, most of these goals have already fizzled out from a lack of discipline, direction or simply giving enough of a damn. But I suspect many of us have something in mind that won’t fizzle out quite so easily. We have the kinds of goals that speak to us on the gut level, even if we don’t quite know how to talk back yet.

And I’m here to tell you, if you’ve got one of those big, scary, possibly life-altering goals that—even after the hype of the New Year is long gone—you really want to see fulfilled this year, keep it to yourself.

I get it—you want support. You need accountability. And yeah, putting it in writing and broadcasting it to the world makes it feel real.

But you know what else feels real? Quietly putting in the work. Every single day. Not seeking validation from people with pesky little opinions about what it is you’re trying to accomplish or whether you’re cut out for it. You know what sharing your goals with the world really is? A distraction. A subconscious attempt at seeking permission and praise. A mind trick that makes you feel as if you’ve already taken the most difficult step by admitting your plans when in fact the hardest part is getting started—and not quitting when you get stuck.

You’d think putting it out there will hold you accountable—or at the very least, guilt you into following through on your proclamation because you can’t take it back. But the world doesn’t hold you accountable for anything, except maybe taxes. If it’s something you truly want, you don’t need an audience to get motivated. You need a plan of attack. And when that plan gets shot to hell (even the best-laid plans can fall apart when they’re passion-driven), you need to decide to keep hacking away regardless.

I’ll make one concession, because we could all use someone to tell us we’re not batshit insane for chasing the dream. One person: a friend, a partner, a coach or mentor, someone whose advice you trust and who will remind you why you got into this mess when you’re knee-deep in self-doubt. One person who gets what it is you’re after is way more valuable than a noisy crowd of strangers.

All the rest? It’s on you.

 

How do you prioritize?

priorities

When you think about your top priorities, do a dozen different things come to mind?

If so, we’re a lot alike. But I’ve realized what I call “priorities” pretty much encompass my entire life—everything from school to relationships to my health to this here blog make up all of my top focuses, which in fact makes it pretty darn hard to focus on anything, really.

Nicole wrote a very insightful post that made me reconsider what my priorities were. This particularly stood out to me:

“Before last week, since my mental health wasn’t my clearly identified top priority, other ‘priorities’ such as training, social and family stuff, and even work would often slip into that top spot and monopolize my attention. I didn’t have an iron-clad priority, which made everything seem like the priority, but the truth is that a priority isn’t a priority if you have 50 of them.

Simple, right? It was refreshing and kind of a relief to read this. I realized I wasn’t failing at life because I struggled to balance grad school, two writing jobs, my health, a social life, and my blog. I was just a normal person who had a lot on her plate and felt like she had to do all the things when in fact she should’ve focused on the first thing on her list: grad school. Are the other things still important? Absolutely. Are they the most important? Well, no. Not right now.

But how do you stick to one priority when other things are still important?

Obviously relationships and health shouldn’t go out the window just because school or something else gets top billing. The most helpful way I’ve come to think of it is to schedule your top priority in ink. Schedule the rest in pencil. 

In other words, plan time on your calendar that’s dedicated to whatever’s most important and stick to it no matter what. That way, even if you only accomplish one thing on your list, it’s the most important thing. Allow yourself to be flexible on the rest, and you won’t feel guilty if today’s cleaning session becomes tomorrow’s instead.

If you’re a master procrastinator, it also helps to identify your biggest distractors and schedule those, too. For me, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and my blog feed is how I procrastinate. That not only takes away time from my top priority, but from my downtime, too. Now, I’m setting a limit on that time to 5-10 minutes in the morning and evening and 15-20 minutes at lunch. And blogs? I can catch up on those over the course of an hour on the weekends. That’s plenty of time to stay active and engaged online—but most importantly, that also leaves plenty of time to be active and engaged in the real world.

By keeping your number-one priority in mind every time you have to make a decision about how to spend your time, you’re a lot more likely to make the right decision and stay focused on the main goal. It helps to keep expectations for other aspects of our lives in perspective, too. In my case, that means from now on, I plain to aim on publishing two blog posts per week instead of three here at WTH. I have a lot of other writing responsibilities, and if I get too ambitious with my secondary goals, I’m unnecessarily setting myself up for disappointment if I fail to reach them.

August has been amazing and filled with lots of travel and quality time with family and friends, and now I’m ready to get back in the blogging groove—albeit at a different pace than before. Now that I have more realistic goals in mind for this space and can focus on grad school, there’s no mistaking what my top priorities are any longer.

How about you? What’s your top priority, and how do you work toward it every day?

Slow the eff down

Sound familiar? A lot of us feel like we’re moving at a hundred miles a minute but not accomplishing nearly enough. That’s why Claire is here to tell us how sprinting from one task to the next is killing your productivity and making you feel like crap. (Luckily, there’s a solution.) Listen up!

slow the eff down

As I type this, I am trying to move at 100 miles a minute, in about 20 different directions.

This is not a joke. Since beginning this post, I have:

  • Eaten an after-dinner snack (okay, several after-dinner snacks)
  • Done laundry
  • Answered emails
  • Made tea
  • Scrolled through Instagram roughly 47 times

Honestly, though? None of these tasks were done well, and just as importantly, none of them have made me feel the way I want to feel.

For all of the time I’ve spent trying to keep myself busy, clean and satiated this evening, I’ve accomplished embarrassingly little.

How many of your days look exactly like this?

If you, like me, spend your precious time struggling to complete what really counts toward accomplishing your Big Life Goals, it may be time to:

Slow down. Take a breath. Look more closely at whose agenda you’re following.

When I say “whose agenda,” here, I’m not implying that you’re taking orders from another person; what I actually mean is that you’re allowing a noisy little voice in your head to run the show.

Because believe it or not, we’re all catering to two agendas: our own, and our egos’.

Our own agendas are full of inspiring, life-changing plans, like:

  • Create a work of art that truly moves someone
  • Treat my body with the love and respect it deserves, so that it looks and feels awesome
  • Build a career that’s challenging, fulfilling and makes a difference in the world

Our egos’ agendas are full of self-centered, instant-gratification plans, like:

  • Binge-watch Orange Is the New Black
  • Get some Very Important Email Answering done
  • Take a nap

Neither of these agendas are inherently good or bad; they both simply revolve around a core of desired feelings. The major difference, however, is that our agendas are rooted in bravery and the embracing of challenge, while our egos’ agendas are rooted in comfort and the avoidance of pain.

Creating a work of art—or, in this case, a blog post worth reading—will ultimately bring me satisfaction, pride, and the joy of collaboration with a writer I deeply admire (hi, Cassie!). First, however, it has brought feelings of fear that what I write will be crap, and frustration at the fact that the words aren’t materializing as easily as I’d like.

Only by slowing the fuck down, feeling those scary emotions and moving through them do I have any chance of accomplishing my goal tonight.

Instead, however, I’ve chosen to run from them for the past three hours. And my ego has happily stepped in to help me.

This irritating little ego still wanted to feel proud and productive, but it didn’t want to deal with the tough stuff. So it picked easier options. How about the laundry? it said. Oh, and look, you have new Facebook notifications. Those are probably important. You should check them off the list!

And so I did. And now I have clean underwear and know that three people “liked” a photo I posted yesterday.

But have I really accomplished anything? Have I connected with anyone? Did it matter?

Um, resounding NOPE up in here.

To experience the deep fulfillment and feelings of helpfulness that spring from creating something worthwhile, I’ve first had to:

  • Admit to myself that yes, I’m scared, and yes, I’m frustrated.
  • Actually FEEL those feelings for a minute. Hang around with them. Let them wear themselves out.
  • Put my fingers on the keyboard and do the damn work.

By sloooooowing doooooown and accepting those emotions you’re so used to running from—those flutterings of dread before a workout, the overwhelm of launching a new product, the nervousness that no one will connect with your art—you’ll actually be able to get more done, and you’ll be better at what you’re doing.

Keep trying to numb those feelings, and your ego will gleefully help you overeat, put that new product on hold indefinitely, send lots of tweets, texts and snapchats, then settle in for a nap.

And you. will. be. stuck.

The next time you’re feeling busybusybusy but aren’t actually getting anything done, stop for a second. Put down the phone/laptop/cookie.

Ask yourself: How do I feel right now? And how do I want to feel?

If “how do I feel?” results in a negative answer—afraid, frustrated, hurt, angry—don’t rush to block it out. Let it wash over you. Try to live inside it for a second; what does it feel like, physically? Is your stomach clenched? Are your knuckles white? Do you need a few seconds to punch your pillow, or to cry it out? Do what it takes to get comfortable with that emotion—once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to move through it in peace.

Once that’s finished, you can focus on the good stuff: if you want to feel accomplished, you’re smart enough to know that a nap won’t provide that result. If you want to feel healthy and vibrant, the package of Oreos does not hold the answer.

You know what needs to happen to move closer to your dream life. Rushing from one activity to the next in an effort to avoid discomfort is not it. 

I’d love to know, though—what is?

What plans from your agenda are you going to tackle today, and what plans from your ego’s are you going to happily kiss goodbye?

 

 

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop wants to live in a world where her friends pursue their bucket list dreams with reckless abandon, where they give their all to doing what they love, and where their health and well-being aren’t compromised in the process. As the health coach behind Eat Well. Party Hard., she’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive, and fuels her own crazy life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. Her ebook, Killer Confidence: Anywhere + At Any Weight is available (for free!) right here.

It’s been quiet

quiet

You know that feeling you get when nothing’s wrong per se, but something’s not quite right, either? Like when you try on your old favorite pair of pants and they still fit fine, but they’re just not your style anymore?

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately. About my blogging mentality, in particular. Witty Title Here is my home on the Internet. It’s a respite, a labor of love, a curated version of my identity (as blogs tend to be) and so much more. There’s a lot here of which I’m incredibly proud. But to be honest, I’ve struggled with something I can’t quite put my finger on.

Which is why in 2014, I plan on changing things up—just a little bit—to rejuvenate my enthusiasm and hopefully get you excited, too. I haven’t quite yet figured out the details, but the big picture is becoming clearer. And I think it’s gonna be a good change.

Here’s what I do know.

I want WTH to be more helpful. I want it to be a place where you can find interesting people doing awesome things on the Internet. I want it to be less about me and more about you. Because you, dear reader/listener/lurker/friend, are why I’m here, writing and sharing, week after week.

Am I taking myself out of it—becoming less personal? Definitely not. It’s my voice, my story, my perspective I’ve shared all along, and that will never go away. In a sea of millions of blogs, personality, I’ve learned, is very important. But as a writer, I’d like to grow beyond talking about me, me, me. This is not an autobiography. Because really, aside from moving across the country, my life isn’t nearly interesting enough for all that. But the people I meet and the place I live? They’re fascinating.

Here’s what I’d like to know.

I’d like to know more about you. What you’re working on. Who or what you’d like to share with the world. The things that piss you off and the things that get you excited. (So we can commiserate about and celebrate them respectively.) I think we could get some fantastic discussions going on in this space.

What does all of this mean?

It means that I’m feeling pumped about my blog again. That I’ll be trying out some new things—and will be eager to hear your feedback. That I’ll hopefully stick to a more regular posting schedule. (I have every intention to do so but reserve the right to cut back when I’m feeling the heat at school. My education does, after all, take priority.) And when I find out you’re doing something awesome that should be shared with the world, I’ll shine the spotlight on you.

My sincere hope is that WTH  becomes a more valuable place for you.

Sound good? I can’t wait. Stay tuned, friends.